Research provides promising news for those who lost smell due to COVID-19

"We are trying an intervention to help regain and rebuild the smell center in the cells that allow you to smell," said Dr. Rosen.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- All week long, Action News has been taking a look back at how our lives have changed over the past two years because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

For some, the effects of the virus have lasted much longer than expected.

"My worst result and symptom was losing smell and taste," said Nancy Damato of Cold Spring, New York.

Damato is a Covid long hauler. She contracted the virus in February of 2021 and is still having complications.

"We still have a lot of people really still suffering and I think this is one of those. It is the suffering that you can't see," said Damato.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office estimates that the so-called "Long Covid" has impacted 23 million Americans. But help is on the way for patients like Damato.

SEE ALSO: 2 years of COVID-19: Impact on health care, what to expect moving forward
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In early 2020, healthcare systems became front and center in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

When it comes to losing smell, experts at Jefferson Health are working to reverse the damage.

"Previously, you would go to an ENT doctor and they would say, 'do your smell exercises' They would give you oral steroids or nasal steroids and spray, and they would say sorry, 'I have nothing else to offer and you are just never going to smell again,'" said Dr. David Rosen with Thomas Jefferson University.

Researchers are testing a method called Platelet-rich plasma or PRP. It's plasma from the patient's blood that's implanted instead of an injection. It goes on small sponges with the patient's plasma that eventually dissolves and then implanted in the nose. The goal is to restore taste and smell.

"We are trying an intervention to help regain and rebuild the smell center in the cells that allow you to smell," said Dr. Rosen.

More work needs to be done, and researchers are only in the pilot stages but say the results are promising.

The medical community is constantly working on new treatments for Covid.

Currently, most who are not in the hospital are treated with oral medications.

Pfizer is working on Phase 2 and 3 of a clinical trial for a pill called Paxlovid. It's for kids 6 to 17 who are not hospitalized but at severe risk. The pill is already being used for at-risk people 12 and older.

"For patients that are at higher risk for progression to hospitalization, we are still using the oral medications. Paxlovid is still the number one agent to use right now. It is the most effective," said Dr. Nathaniel Marchetti with Temple Health.

Marchetti says Covid could soon be like the common cold and may be as easy as seeing your doctor and getting a prescription.

"I think there will be more treatments that will be used to help reduce the severity of illness, shorten the illness and prevent hospitalizations. And if you prevent hospitalization, then you are going to prevent death," said Dr. Marchetti.

Two years into the pandemic, experts say it's not clear yet if people will grapple with lifelong symptoms or if they will eventually heal.
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